Dec 17th was the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. In DC, the Decrim Carnival 3 was held in the Reeves Center on 14th st. Music and dancers performing dances similar to what they would do onstage (but fully dressed) alternated with speakers on the human cost of keeping sex work illegal. Physical assaults by violent men posing as customers go unpunished because sex workers know the police cannot be trusted and filing a report simply creates a second round of risk, this time from the cops.
A certificate was shown off honoring DC Councilmember David Grosso for the bill he introduced to decriminalize sex work in DC. The bill has not been passed, but it has not been voted down either and it will be reintroduced in the 2019 DC Council session. Passage of this bill would force an end to police entrapment, extortion, and arrests of sex workers working inside the boundaries of DC.
The passage of FOSTA-SESTA, an internet censorship billed aimed at shutting down Backpage.com has been catastrophic for sex workers in general and transgender sex workers in particular, in DC as it has been all over the US. There are websites outside the US that do the job Backpage (and no longer offered personals on Craiglist and so many other sites) used to do, but some of them are extremely expensive, in once case charging 20% of every successful transaction. This while the site in question is hosted in a country where sex work is openly legal. Thus, many sex workers have had no choice but to return to traditional street work, where they are exposed to violence from police, robbers, and fake customers whose intentions are anything but a consensual transaction. A bill aimed at sex trafficking (forced labor) has instead created a crisis for consensual sex workers who choose this line of work because conventional employers either offer tiny wages or won't hire them at all. This is particularily acute for transgender folks both women and men.
Thus transgender sex workers and their allies were strongly represented at the Decrim Carnival. Also present were cisgender women who support themselves by sex work and a few cisgender male sex workers as well.